The Islamic State, IS, on Monday sacked leader of its operations in West Africa, Abu Mus’ab Al Barnawi, a journalist covering the Lake Chad crisis reported.
According to Ahmad Salkida, an audio recording from IS named one Abu Abdullah Ibn Umar Al Barnawi as new head of the Islamic State in the West Africa Province, ISWAP.
The new leader according to sources cited by the journalist was appointed by IS global leader Abubakar Al Baghdadi and was receiving pledges from cells across West and Central Africa.
On the status of dismissed Abu Mus’ab, whiles there was no concrete reason for the move he is said to be alive and still with the group.
“Multiple sources insist that Abu Musab is alive and well, and still with ISWAP despite his abrupt demotion by IS central. Notwithstanding, the coming weeks will reveal whatever is hidden as this is happening so quickly even within the group,” Salkida noted.
Barnawi was appointed leader of ISWAP in August 2016. His appointment was at the time read as a move by IS to sideline known leader of Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau – at the time Boko Haram had pledged allegiance to IS.Analysis: Shekau out, Barnawi in – end of an era?
Later developments indicated that there had been a split in the group with Shekau maintaining his leadership over Boko Haram whiles Abu Mus’ab led ISWAP.
The split became one of the challenges to the Nigerian Army’s counter terrorism combat having to deal with two different groups that were operating in different parts of the northeast and across the Lake Chad region.